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Map of Southeast Asia at end of 12th century.

Srivijaya, Sriwijaya, Shri Bhoja, Sri Boja or Shri Vijaya (200s-1400) was an ancient Malay kingdom on the island of Sumatra which influenced much of the Malay Archipelago. Records of its beginning are scarce while estimations range from the 3rd to 5th centuries. The kingdom ceased to exist around 1400. In Sanskrit, sri means 'shining' or 'radiant' and vijaya means victory or excellence.

The existence of Srivijaya was only formally suspected in 1918 when French historian George Coedès of École française d'Extrême-Orient postulated the existence of the empire.<ref>Page 117. Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Paul Michel Munoz.</ref> Around 1992 and 1993, Pierre-Yves Manguin proved that the center of Srivijaya was along the Musi River in between Bukit Seguntang and Sabokingking.<ref>Page 117. Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Paul Michel Munoz.</ref>


Formation and growth

Template:History of Indonesia According to the Kedukan Bukit Inscription, the empire of Srivijaya was founded by Dapunta Hyang Çri Yacanaca (Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa). He led 20,000 troops (mainly land troopers and a few hundred ships) from Minanga Tamwan (speculated to be Minangkabau) to Palembang, Jambi, and Bengkulu.

The empire was a coastal trading center and was a thalassocracy. As such, it did not extend its influence far beyond the coastal areas of the islands of Southeast Asia, with the exception of contributing to the population of Madagascar 3,300 miles to the west. Around year 500, Srivijayan roots begun to develop around present-day Palembang, Sumatra, in modern day Indonesia. The empire was organised in three main zones — the estuarine capital region centred on Palembang, the Musi River basin which served as hinterland and rival estuarine areas capable of forming rival power centres. The areas upstream of the river were rich in various commodities valuable to Chinese traders.<ref>Page 113. Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Paul Michel Munoz.</ref> The capital was administered directly by the ruler while the hinterland remained under its own local datus or chiefs who were organized into a network of allegiance to the Srivijaya maharaja or king. Force was the dominant element in the empire's relations with rival river systems such as the Batang Hari which centered in Jambi. The ruling lineage intermarried with the Sailendras of Central Java.

Under the leadership of Jayanasa, the kingdom of Malayu became the first kingdom to be integrated into the Srivijayan Empire. This possibly occurred in the 680s. Malayu, also known as Jambi, was rich in gold and was held in high prestige. Srivijaya saw the submission of Malayu to them would increase their own prestige.<ref>Page 124. Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Paul Michel Munoz.</ref>

Chinese records dated late 7th century mention two Sumatran kingdoms as well as three other kingdoms on Java being part of Srivijaya. By the end of the 8th century, many Javanese kingdoms like Tarumanagara and Holing was under Srivijayan sphere of influence. It has also been recorded that a Buddhist family related to Srivijaya was dominating central Java.<ref>Page 129. Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Paul Michel Munoz.</ref> The family was probably the Sailendra.<ref>Page 132. Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Paul Michel Munoz.</ref> According to Kota Kapur Inscription, the empire conquered Southern Sumatra up to Lampung. The empire thus grew to control the trade on the Strait of Malacca, South China Sea and Karimata Strait.

During the same century, Langkasuka on the Malay Peninsula became part of Srivijaya. <ref>Page 130. Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Paul Michel Munoz.</ref> Soon later, Pan Pan and Trambralinga, which were located north of Langkasuka came under Srivijayan influence. These kingdoms on the peninsula were major trading nations that transported goods across the peninsula's isthmus.

With the expansion to Java as well as the Malay Peninsula, Srivijaya controlled two major trade choke points in Southeast Asia. Some Srivijayan temple ruins are observable in Thailand, Cambodia and on the Malay Peninsula.

Sometimes in the 7th century, Cham ports in eastern Indochina started to attract traders. This diverted the flow of trade from Srivijaya. In effort to redivert the flow, the Srivijayan king or maharaja Dharmasetu launched various raids against the coastal cities of Indochina. The city of Indrapura by the Mekong River was temporarily controlled from Palembang in early 8th century.<ref>Page 132. Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Paul Michel Munoz.</ref> The Srivijayan continued to dominate areas around modern day Cambodia until the Khmer King Jayavarman II, the founder of the Khmer Empire dynasty, severed the Srivijayan link later in the same century.<ref>Page 140. Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Paul Michel Munoz.</ref>

After Dharmasetu, Samaratunga became the next Maharaja of Srivijaya. He reigned as ruler from 792 to 835. Unlike the expansionist Dharmasetu, Samaratuga did not indulged in military expansion but rather, he preferred to strengthen Srivijayan hold of Java. He personally oversaw the construction of Borobudur; the temple was completed in 825, during his reign.<ref>Page 143. Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Paul Michel Munoz.</ref>

By the twelfth century, it had included parts of Sumatra, Ceylon, the Malay Peninsula, Western Java, Sulawesi, the Moluccas, Borneo and the Philippines, most notably the Sulu Archipelago and the Visayas islands (whose people and region is named after the empire). <ref>Rasul, Justice Jainal D. "Agonies and Dreams: The Filipino Muslims and Other Minorities". Quezon City: CARE Minorities, 2003 </ref>

Srivijaya remained a formidable sea power until the thirteenth century.

Vajrayana Buddhism

Template:History of Malaysia A stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism, Srivijaya attracted pilgrims and scholars from other parts of Asia. These included the Chinese monk Yijing, who made several lengthy visits to Sumatra on his way to study at Nalanda University in India in 671 and 695, and the 11th century Bengali Buddhist scholar Atisha, who played a major role in the development of Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet. Yijing reports that the kingdom was home to more than a thousand Buddhist scholars; it was in Srivijaya that he wrote his memoir of Buddhism during his own lifetime. Travellers to these islands mentioned that gold coinage was in use on the coasts, but not inland.

Relationship with regional powers

Pagoda in Srivijaya style in Chaiya, Thailand

Although historical records and archaeological evidence are scarce, it appears that by the seventh century, Srivijaya established suzerainty over large areas of Sumatra, western Java and much of the Malay Peninsula. Dominating the Malacca and Sunda straits, Srivijaya controlled both the spice route traffic and local trade, charging a toll on passing ships. Serving as an entrepôt for Chinese, Malay, and Indian markets, the port of Palembang, accessible from the coast by way of a river, accumulated great wealth. Srivijaya exchanged frequent embassies with China.

The Jambi kingdom was the first rival power centre absorbed into the empire, starting the domination of the region through trade and conquest in the 7th and 9th centuries. Jambi's gold mines were a crucial economic resource and may be the origin of Subharnadvipa, (island of gold), the Sanskrit name for Sumatra. Srivijaya helped spread the Malay culture throughout Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, and western Borneo. Srivijaya influence waned in the 11th century. It was in frequent conflict with, and ultimately subjugated by, Javanese kingdoms, first Singhasari and then Majapahit. The seat of the empire moved to Jambi in the last centuries of Srivijaya's existence.

Some historians claim that Chaiya in the Surat Thani province in Southern Thailand was at least temporarily the capital of Srivijaya but this claim is largely disputed. However, Chaiya was probably a regional center of the kingdom. The temple Borom That in Chaiya contains a reconstructed pagoda in Srivijaya style. The Khmer Empire may also have been a tributary in its early stages.

Srivijaya also maintained close relations with the Pala Empire in Bengal and an 860 inscription records that the maharaja of Srivijaya dedicated a monastery at the Nalanda university in Pala territory. Relations with the Chola dynasty of southern India were initially friendly but deteriorated into actual warfare in the eleventh century.

Golden age

After trade disruption at Canton between 820 and 850, the ruler of Jambi was able to assert enough independence to send missions to China in 853 and 871. Jambi's independence coincided with the troubled time when the Sailendran Balaputra, expelled from Java, seized the throne of Srivijaya. The new maharaja was able to dispatch a tributary mission to China by 902. Only two years later, the expiring Tang dynasty conferred a title on a Srivijayan envoy.

In the first half of the tenth century, between the fall of Tang and the rise of Song, there was brisk trade between the overseas world and the Fujian kingdom of Min and the rich Guangdong kingdom of Nan Han. Srivijaya undoubtedly benefited from this, preparatory to the prosperity it was to enjoy under the early Song. Circa 903, Muslim writer Ibn Rustah was so impressed with the wealth of Srivijaya's ruler that he declared one would not hear of a king who was richer, stronger or with more revenue. The main urban centers were at Palembang (especially the Bukit Seguntang area), Muara Jambi and Kedah.


In 1025, Rajendra Chola, the Chola king from Coromandel in South India, conquered Kedah from Srivijaya and occupied it for some time. The Cholas continued a series of raids and conquests throughout what is now Indonesia and Malaysia for the next 20 years. Although the Chola invasion was ultimately unsuccessful, it gravely weakened the Srivijayan hegemony and enabled the formation of regional kingdoms based, like Kediri, on intensive agriculture rather than coastal and long distance trade.

By 1088, Melayu-Jambi Kingdom (or Dharmasraya Kingdom) conquered Srivijaya, and ruled it for the next 2 centuries.

In 1288, a Singhasari Kingdom conquered Dharmasraya Kingdom, including Srivijaya, which was well known as Pamalayu Expedition. In the year of 1293 Dharmasraya, and Srivijaya, became part of Majapahit Empire.

In 1365, Srivijaya was ruled by the Majapahit empire. Prince Adityawarman, was given responsibilities on Sumatra Island since 1347 by Hayam Wuruk, the fourth king of Majapahit. The rebellion in 1377 was squashed down by Majapahit, but left the area of Southern Sumatra in chaos and desolation.

In the following years, the sedimentation on Musi river estuaria cut the kingdom's capital from direct sea access. The non-strategic disadvantage crippled the trade in the Kingdom's capital. As the decline went further, Islam made its way to the Aceh region of Sumatra, spreading through contacts with Arab and Indian traders. By the late 13th century, the kingdom of Pasai in northern Sumatra converted to Islam. At the same time, Srivijaya was briefly a tributary of the Khmer empire and later the Sukhothai kingdom. The last inscription dates to 1374, in a crown prince, Ananggavarman, son of Adityawarman, is mentioned.

By 1402 Parameswara (the fourth descendent of Raden Wijaya, the first king of Majapahit), the last prince of Srivijaya founded the Sultanate of Malacca on the Malay peninsula. He converted to Islam in 1414.

The name of the empire was rediscovered by George Coedës in the 1920s, who noticed that the Chinese references to Sanfoqi, previously read as Sribhoja and the inscriptions in Old Malay refer to the same empire.


In the world of commerce, Srivijaya rapidly rose to be a far-flung empire controlling the two passages between India and China, namely the Sunda Strait from Palembang and the Malacca straits from Kedah. Arab accounts state that the empire of the maharaja was so large that in two years the swiftest vessel could not travel round all its islands, which produced camphor, aloes, cloves, sandal-wood, nutmegs, cardamom and crubebs, ivory, gold and tin, making the maharaja as rich as any king in the Indies.


Part of History of Thailand. Map-thailand.gif
Prehistoric Thailand
Early history of Thailand
Initial states of Thailand (3 BC-1238)
Sukhothai Kingdom (1238-1448 )
Ayutthaya Kingdom (1351-1767)
Thonburi Kingdom (1768-1782)
Rattanakosin Kingdom (1782-1932)
Kingdom of Thailand
Regional history
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Further references

  • D. G. E. Hall, A History of South-east Asia. London: Macmillan, 1955.
  • D. R. SarDesai. Southeast Asia: Past and Present. Boulder: Westview Press, 1997.
  • Lynda Norene Shaffer. Maritime Southeast Asia to 1500. London: ME Sharpe Armonk, 1996.
  • Stuart-Fox, Martin. A Short History of China and Southeast Asia: Tribute, Trade, and Influence. London: Allen and Unwin, 2003.
  • Munoz, Paul Michel (2006). Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Editions Didier Millet. ISBN 9814155675. 

External links

de:Srivijaya es:Srivijaya fr:Sriwijaya hi:श्रीविजय राजवंश id:Kerajaan Sriwijaya ms:Srivijaya nl:Srivijaya ja:シュリーヴィジャヤ王国 ru:Шривиджая sa:श्रीविजय राजवंश sv:Shrivijaya vi:Srivijaya zh:三佛齐

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